Is Golf a Sport? A Look at Its History

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Golf is considered a sport by some people, and it is considered a game by others. Some people believe that golf doesn't meet the physical rigor required of sports, which disqualifies it from consideration.

For anyone considering the question of is golf a sport or not, the subject has drawn considerable debate. People who defend golf in its classification as a sport say that the golf swing requires the use of 17 different muscles, which makes it a physically demanding activity that requires strength and preparation to perform. Opponents say that golf better fits the definition of a game, which is a leisure activity that is performed for pleasure instead of winning.

Golf History
Although the debate over whether golf is a sport or game continues, golf has a prominent place in world history. Golf began in 100 B.C. when ancient Romans played an early version of golf by using a bent stick to hit a stuffed ball. Golf then moved on to China, where it was played between 960 and 1279 B.C. The Chinese at that time played a game, similar to golf, that involved using clubs to hit a ball. The first modern version of golf, however, is believed to have begun in Scotland around 1500 B.C. At that time, the Scots started playing games of golf in a similar fashion to the golf that exists in modern times. The game became so popular that the Scottish Parliament stepped in to regulate its play. In 1457 A.D., Scotland's Parliament imposed several regulations that banned people from playing golf. Football - what is known as soccer in the United States - was also banned in that regulation. The Scottish Parliament defended its actions by stating that the two sports interfered with the ability to practice archery, which was essential for national defense. King James II of Scotland passed the first act banning golf and football. The act was reaffirmed in 1471 and 1491. The ban on golf in Scotland was eventually lifted in 1500 when King James IV began playing the game himself. Golf's popularity continued to spread through Scotland. It was not until 1744, however, that the first official golf rules were created by the Honorable Company of Edinburgh Golfers.

Golf in the U.S.
Golf continued to grow in popularity, and several key milestones turned it into a popular pastime. Golf first emerged in the U.S. in 1729, when it was played at the estate of William Burnet, who was the governor of Massachusetts at the time. In 1764, the Old Course at St Andrews was reduced from 22 holes to 18 holes, which is the size of an official modern golf course. The first open championship was played in 1860, and it was won by William Park Sr. of Scotland. In 1894, the United States Golf Association was formed in New York. The new golf association established several chapters, which were located in New York, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Illinois. The U.S. Open was played for the first time in 1895, and golf was played at the Paris Olympic Games in 1900. Golf originated as an activity for men but gained popularity and recognition among women too. The first U.S. Women's Open Championship was played in Spokane, Washington, in 1946. In 1950, the Ladies Professional Golf Association was established. In 2016, golf was played at the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games, which marked its first return to the Olympics in 112 years.